NIAGARA, N.Y. - The Western Carolina men's basketball team drained a season-high 14 3-pointers Saturday afternoon as the Catamounts defeated Alabama A&M in their final game of the Barclays Center Classic, 82-72. WCU shot 60.9 percent from 3-point range in the game with Marc Gosselin, Matt Halvorsen and Deriece Parks all draining three 3-pointers. Senior Devin Peterson added a pair of triples while leading the team with 21 points, seven assists and three steals.
Gosselin added 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. The junior was 5-of-7 from the field including a perfect 3-of-3 from long range. Halvorsen finished 3-of-4 from distance while scoring 11 points. Parks finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists.
The victory is the first over an NCAA Division I opponent for the Catamounts and moves WCU's record to 2-5 while the Bulldogs of Alabama A&M fell to 0-6.
Sophomore Onno Steger came up just shy of double-figures as he scored eight points while hitting 3-of-3 attempts from the field including a perfect 2-of-2 from 3-point range.
Alabama A&M placed three scorers in double-figures led by Arthur Johnson who scored 18 points while knocking down four 3-pointers.
Both squads shot the ball well with AA&M finishing at 52.1 percent from the field, just edging WCU's 51.7 percent. The difference came from 3-point range where the Catamounts knocked down 14 shots at a 60.9 percent clip while the Bulldogs hit eight 3-pointers while shooting 42.1 percent from downtown.
WCU won the turnover battle 18-13 which led to a 22-10 advantage in points off turnovers. Both teams ripped down 29 rebounds with WCU edging the Bulldogs 30-28 in points in the paint.
The Catamounts scored the first seven points of the game but the Bulldogs quickly made it a one-possession ball game with four quick points after the first media timeout. The game would remain close for the next several minutes until a 15-2 run by the Catamounts opened up a 14-point advantage for WCU with 7:30 left in the period. The lead would eventually grow to 18 with 3:47 left as sophomore Maurice Smith hit a layup to put the Catamounts ahead 45-27. WCU would not score the rest of the half as the Bulldogs closed the half with a 6-0 run to trail by 12 as time expired.
The Catamounts held a double-digit lead for nearly the entire second half but a 12-0 run by the Bulldogs cut the lead to just six with 4:19 left to play. Halvorsen ended the run with a huge three with just over four minutes remaining to push the lead back to nine. The Bulldogs cut the lead to six one more time but Parks answered with another three as WCU held off the feisty Bulldogs. Peterson capped off the victory with a free throw with 24 seconds left and a fast break dunk just seven seconds later as the Catamounts earned the double-digit win.
The Catamounts will return home after a grueling nine-day, four-game road trip before heading to the South Carolina Lowcountry this Thursday, Nov. 30 to face the College of Charleston Cougars who will be returning from a road trip to Alaska where they competed in the GCI Great Alaska Shootout.